Eileen McDonnell

CEO and Chairman of the Board, Penn Mutual

Eileen McDonnell


“When I was a kid, my parents told me I could do anything I wanted to—and I believed them,” says Eileen McDonnell. Throughout her career, she’s proven it. Of the Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S., just 54 have women CEOs. McDonnell—of Horsham-based Penn Mutual—is one of them. She’s shown herself to be a visionary leader, navigating difficulties like the 2008 financial crisis, which came just six months after she joined Penn Mutual.

Since McDonnell came aboard, Penn Mutual has risen from the 38th largest provider of insurance in the country to the 11th, according to the Life Insurance Market Research Association. In 2015, Penn Mutual made its debut on the Fortune 1000 list at number 980. Last year, it was 761. “As we built our confidence, as we recapped our business plan, a big theme that we had was deciding to lead,” says McDonnell. To that end, over 40 percent of Penn Mutual’s board and executive team are women. “I think we’ve demonstrated really well here at Penn Mutual that it’s not just lip service having women in key leadership positions,” adds McDonnell.

Under McDonnell, Penn Mutual has also established itself as one of seven Fortune 1000 companies to have a woman in both the CEO and CFO positions. “We’ve been serving together for over five years,” says McDonnell of her colleague, Susan T. Deakins. “That puts us as the second longest serving tenured women’s team in the Fortune 1000s.”

This past summer, Penn Mutual launched myWorth, a program to help women focus on their financial needs. “It is uniquely designed to work with women consumers, to help educate them and better position them for financial success,” says McDonnell, who knows a thing or two about that.

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